The Meaning of Memorial Day

Memorial Day


What is the meaning of Memorial Day? It’s appalling how few people realize the depth of its meaning for the freedoms we enjoy today.

A large group of high school seniors were touring the Capitol in Washington D.C. on Memorial Day. The guide posed the question, “What is the meaning of Memorial Day?”

They thought about it, and together they said, “It’s the day that the pool opens.”

That’s sad. Studies have shown that only about 25% of Americans know the meaning of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is about remembering. It has ‘memory’ in it. It’s easy to forget the price that was paid for our freedoms.

We can casually sit back and enjoy backyard barbecues, boat rides, and beach bashes, but the meaning of Memorial Day is that almost 1.5 million men and women have died so that you and I might enjoy our freedoms. We look to Thanksgiving as a day when we pause to give thanks for the things that we have. Memorial Day is a day when we pause to give thanks to the people who fought and died for the things we have.

Peter wrote to the church, saying, “This is now the second letter I am writing to you in which I’m stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder that you should remember…” (II Peter 3:1,2) We need to have our minds stirred. We need to remember.

It started during the Civil War when women began decorating the graves of soldiers who had died in that war. On May 30, 1868, the day was designated as ‘Decoration Day’ – a day for placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers throughout the United States.

‘Decoration Day’ gradually became known as Memorial Day, and soldiers who died in other wars were honored. It quickly became a day to remember all people who had died in defense of our country. In 1971, the United States Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be observed on the last Monday of May.

We must remember that freedom isn’t free. People died so that we could live. We have the opportunity to make decisions today because of the sacrifice of people yesterday!

Remember the bravery of soldiers like Marine Sergeant John Basiloni, who was awarded a Medal of Honor for his bravery at Guadalcanal. He commanded two sections of machine guns against three thousand enemy soldiers for more than forty-eight hours before reinforcements arrived. You add the names of people you know to John Basiloni’s name. Spend some time thanking people and God for their bravery. People who have died in all the wars form an elite group that must never be forgotten. We must remember.

How do you plan to celebrate Memorial Day? What difference will Memorial Day make during the rest of the summer and the rest of life? Spend some time thinking about the price for freedom. We think freedom is free. Freedom isn’t free! It’s the most expensive gift we enjoy! Share conversations about the price of freedom.

Remember!! Freedom isn’t free!!

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